World Heritage Day: Five must-visit sites in India

  • Anindita Acharya, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Apr 18, 2015 17:55 IST

From the magnificent Taj Mahal, architectural ruins of Hampi, captivating Badami cave temples in Karnataka to the historic Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar -- India, as we know, is rich in culture, heritage and history. The glorious past of the country is truly reflected in the monuments and its architecture.

The lure of these innumerable heritages sites is such that people from all across the globe travel to India to get a first-hand experience. "Over the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the number of foreign tourists arriving in the country. Heritage tourism India has registered an immense growth in the last few years, ever since additional initiatives were taken by the government of India to boost India's image as a destination for heritage tourism," says Ranjeet Oak, chief business officer-Holidays, MakeMyTrip, about heritage tourism in the country.

On World Heritage Day, HT City lists five popular heritage sites in India.

Taj Mahal

As most travellers say, it's a dream come true moment when you visit the Taj Mahal. It's best to take an authorised guide for the tour of the Taj. If you are lucky enough, you can also have the good fortune of seeing the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, on a moon-lit night. According to Wikipedia, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, attracts some three million people every year. Khajuraho Temples

Known for its bold and erotic sculptures, detailed architecture and artistic carvings, Khajuraho temples, Madhya Pradesh, built by the Chandela kings, continue to attract thousands of tourists every day. Make sure you don't miss the light and sound show at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ajanta and Ellora Caves

You need to see it to believe it. These rock-cut caves, situated in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, will mesmerise you. While Ajanta has 29 Buddhist caves dating from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE, the Ellora Caves has 34 caves with Buddhist, Jain and Hindu rock-cut temples. The architectural brilliance, artistic sculpture and paintings on the caves will certainly hypnotise you. Red Fort

The majestic marble jharokha (canopy) at Diwan-i-Am (hall of pubic audience) at the Red Fort, Delhi, will transport you back to the Mughal era where emperor Shah Jahan and later his successors heard the grievances of the public. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an experience in itself and will take at least two hours to see and understand the history of the place. The light and sound show at the Red Fort, constructed by Shah Jahan, is another must see event. Mahabodhi Temple

Buddha was enlightened here. People from all over the world come to Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya to pray. The ambience is meditative and serene. It's believed that in 250 BCE, 200 years after Buddha attained enlightenment, Emperor Asoka came to Bodh Gaya and built the Buddhist temple. The holy Bodhi tree lies on the western side of the temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site should also be on your must-visit list if you are a heritage lover.

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